Planning a Reception on a Budget
Those dream weddings you see on TV are just that: a dream. They’re shows designed to go big on splash and not take the average person’s budget into consideration, especially when the average American wedding is around $25,000. That may sound like a big figure, but the dollars get eaten up pretty quickly on food and alcohol, the venue, licensing, floral arrangements, music, gifts, clothing, rentals, photography, and more. So instead of giving you an unrealistic recipe for a Long Island wedding reception that’ll make your eyes boggle at the final cost, we here at Windows on the Lake have devised an easier, less expensive way of having a reception that you and your guests will remember for years.
Food and Beverage
Your guests have to eat, yes, but they don’t need Kobe-grade filet mignon and crab legs to have a memorable time. They will, however, remember if you serve really awful food, so don’t try and be too cheap in this area. With that in mind, there are still many ways you can have your reception food on a budget at a high-quality Long Island banquet hall and still send everyone home happy.
- Consider a lunch reception instead of an evening reception
- Try serving a buffet for dinner instead of plated dishes
- Book a venue that allows you to hire your own Long Island catering company and bring your own alcohol
- Stick to just a few types of wines and beers, and skip the hard liquors and cocktails
- Serve non-alcoholic drinks, like frappe mochas or fruit smoothies, as a delicious alternative
- Keep your open bar open for limited times instead of having it available all night
- Go for a cupcake cake — or cupcakes — instead of a lavish wedding cake
- Provide your own appetizers
It’s hard to think of even one wedding where music doesn’t play a central role, it’s such a crucial part of the reception. But instead of hooking up your iPod to speakers — which is one of the fastest ways to stamp amateur all over your reception — follow these tips instead.
- Head to a college near you and look for music student-DJs, as they’ll be itching for a place to try out their skills in the real world. You’ll get maximum effort for minimum price
- Set up Songza, 8-Track or TuneIn Radio on your laptop, but not without a friend watching it. The last thing you want is for the type of music you chose to play the same 12 songs in an endless loop
- Hire university students who are majoring in music to play at your wedding, as they’ll be a fraction of the cost as professional musicians but will play at a high enough quality your guests won’t notice the difference
This is a tough choice because while the previous entries allowed you some wiggle room, with guests forming their own (sometimes inaccurate) memories, photos are forever. Do this section too much on the cheap and you won’t have too much to look at down the road, but spend too much and you’ll be kicking yourself for years. Photography is one Long Island wedding reception aspect that isn’t worth cutting corners on.
- Place instant cameras at every table and have guests snap their memories of your reception
- Consider having your Long Island wedding off-season so you can snag a better deal on a professional photographer
- Get quotes from photographers and compare as many as you can for the best price
- Book a photographer for a set block of time to limit costs, like the first hour of the reception
- Take a chance on a budding photographer who’s eager to establish themselves and build an extensive portfolio
- Buy the rights to the photos instead of the photos, and print them yourself when your budget will allow
This is perhaps one of the easiest, most budget-friendly sections you can save money on in your Long Island wedding reception, as flowers are such an integral part of wedding receptions that the scales are tipped in your favor. Flowers are such a common commodity that many, many vendors deal with them, giving you options to find the perfect package for your reception.
- Limit yourself to looking only at flowers that are in season
- Make the bouquets yourself from cut flowers
- Try ordering flowers online for a reduced price
- Mix in silk flowers with live flowers to bump the cost down even more ( you can even rent silk flowers for a discounted price!)